How Do Tooth Fillings Work?
by Dr. Beau Beecher, DDS on 9/4/2018
First comes the cavity. Then comes the filling.
You’ve undoubtedly been gripped with the fear that inevitably takes hold when your dentist or hygienist utters those four dreaded words during a cleaning: “You have a cavity.”
But in reality, there is nothing to fear.
While you certainly want to maintain regular brushing and flossing to prevent cavities, in the event that a cavity does develop, a simple procedure is all that is required to fill it.
What is a filling?
The purpose of a filling is to restore the normal shape and function of a tooth damaged by decay and to stifle the spread of bacteria, preventing further damage.
The process entails numbing the area around the cavity, cleaning out the bacteria from within the cavity, and then filling in the cleaned cavity with material.
Without a filling in place, the tooth will continue to decay, potentially necessitating a root canal or even resulting in the complete loss of that tooth.
The choice between white and metal fillings
The two most common types of fillings are white and metal.
White, or “tooth colored,” fillings have become popular in large part because they appear more natural. This option also typically requires far less of the tooth to be removed.
Metal, often referred to as amalgam, fillings have been around for much longer than white fillings and are considered the more traditional (and less expensive) option.
While metal fillings generally last longer than white fillings, it will vary from patient to patient due to a number of contributing factors, including your oral care and what you eat and drink.
Your dentist will likely present you with both options, emphasizing the most important factors to consider when deciding which type of filling is best suited to your needs.
If you think you might have a cavity or have questions regarding tooth fillings, call your local Kimball & Beecher office and schedule an appointment.